New York, NY – High-powered New York State Senator Chuck Schumer [D-NY], on Thursday night, was lambasted as a real estate toady who is willfully ignoring the plight of workers, small business owners and the homeless.
“Fighting for New York is in my bones and I will always work to keep the cranes rising, hardhats working and economy humming,” the Leader of the Democratic Caucus said as he accepted the John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award at 122nd Annual Banquet of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) this week.
But outside the swanky A-list gala held at the New York Hilton Midtown Manhattan on 6th Avenue, Ray Rogers, celebrated union organizer and Corporate Campaign, Inc. director, skewered Schumer for turning his back on the working class.
“He should be out here fighting for workers and the homeless, and the small businesses — that’s what Schumer should be doing,” Rogers told LaborPress. “Instead, he’s in there hobnobbing with REBNY — the ones responsible for exacerbating and creating the homeless crisis in this city. He’s sitting in there with the people that are busting the unions. REBNY is not just busting the construction unions — they’re against all unions. They want a union-free environment.”
Among a raft of other sins, REBNY has garnered increasing criticism as the leading proponent of so-called “open shop” construction projects that squeeze out highly-trained union labor in favor of a cheaper, exploited non-union workforce; while also successfully stifling legislation aimed at helping small business owners hang onto their leases.
Columbia University Professor David Eisenbach, a Rogers ally who last year ran for New York City Public Advocate, blasted REBNY for spearheading the
increasing stock of unaffordable “affordable housing” being created around the city.
“We haven’t seen this level of labor abuse, of government corruption in New York City, since the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall — since the Gilded Age,” Eisenbach said.
Schumer was not the only high-ranking Democrat being feted in Midtown last night. The 122nd Annual Banquet of the Real Estate Board of New York also welcomed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and many other City and State officials.
“I’d be happy to go head-to-head with [Schumer] anytime if he’d like to explain why he’s in there with REBNY, and not out here with the people who are fighting all the terrible things being done to New York City,” Rogers continued. “We’re talking about the dislocation of people being forced out of their homes; the fear, the anxiety, people fearful about the rezoning issues that REBNY is behind. It has nothing to do with City Planning — the Department of City Planning shills for REBNY — whatever they want, the mayor, the council and the speaker give them.”
This past year, Rogers debuted a new animation called “REBNY Bullies” that challenges the organization’s influence in New York City politics.
Nearly a month after sending a letter to Schumer challenging the senator’s participation in this week’s REBNY gala, Rogers says he has yet to receive a reply. He did, however, receive an automated appeal for a campaign donation.
Efforts to reach Senator Schumer’s office for comment have not been successful.